Foster, Ronald (Mikey) (2018)
“Mickey Foster is a legend of Maine baseball and his impact is lasting in the small town of Standish. His accomplishments in high school, semi-pro, and professional baseball both as a pitcher and hitter are still talked about in local circles. It is fitting that his legacy be recognized by induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.” - Will Sanborn
Ronald “Mickey” Foster was born in Gorham, Maine on January 12, 1934 and was raised on a small farm in Standish. Mickey grew up a strong, rangy, young man with broad shoulders, strong legs, large hands, and a fierce love for our National game. He once said “baseball is, and always will be, the best game in the world.”
When Mickey was young the boys of Standish played pickup ball before school, during recess, and after school. This was “no fins, no funs” baseball. In grammar school he became a “sandlot hero” because of his ability to “pull” a ball 90 degrees from home plate and break the window in the front door of the school. As one can imagine that made him pretty popular with his classmates!
At Standish High School the enrollment was under one hundred students. Standish played much larger schools in the Triple C Conference such as Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Windham, and Gorham. During that era the Standish High teams won a number of Conference and State Championships in baseball and basketball under the legendary Rupert G. Johnson, a baseball master who was far ahead of his time. Over his career Rupe’s baseball teams had a record of 384 victories and 90 losses for a winning percentage of .810 – a record which has never been duplicated. Not only did Rupe coach, but in his bat shop in Sebago Lake village he produced bats swung by players from little league to the pros. It was under the tutelage of Rupe Johnson in the early ‘50s that the young and strong farm boy, Mickey Foster, became a local legend.
In 1951 the Standish High School Lakers won the Class S baseball crown. Mickey pitched the title game. He didn’t have his best stuff on that day, yet struck out 14! A powerful left-handed hitter, he also hit two home runs and added a single to lead his team to victory with five RBI. As a right handed pitcher, he was undefeated for all four years of high school. As a left-handed batter Mickey was one of the most feared hitters in the state. His batting average for his four high school years: Freshman .202, Sophomore .422, Junior .415, and Senior .420. He was selected an Evening Express All-Star for all four years. At the tender age of 14 Mickey began playing town team ball with the Sebago Lake Chevroliers, a team comprised of High School, College, and seasoned adult men. This was how the promising young men of the day learned the great game. In the summer of 1951 he also played for “fearless Freddie Harlow” with the Portland Pilots of the Down East League.
Following graduation Mickey labored in a Manchester, CT textile mill for a year. He then attended Jack Rossiter’s baseball school in Cocoa, Florida. Two hundred twenty eight hopefuls attended the school, fifty six graduated, and twenty six were signed. Mickey was one of the twenty six.
Ronald “Mickey” Foster signed his professional baseball contract with the Washington Nationals in 1953 and was assigned to the “Kitty League” in Fulton, Kentucky. It didn’t take Mickey long to make his mark on the Kitty League. Just two weeks into the season he posted two victories on the mound in one day against Paducah, KY. In the first game he scattered 6 hits for a 10-3 victory and then came off the bench to shut down the opposition with two scoreless innings in the 8th and 9th frames to pick up his second victory of the day. His success continued as he became the first rookie to win 20 games in the “Kitty League”. He finished the year 21-13 and was chosen as a league All-Star. He not only pitched but also played the outfield and first base. Long before the “pitch count era”, in the last week of his first Kitty League season, Mickey either started on the mound or pitched in relief every day.
In 1954 his contract was purchased by Charlotte, North Carolina, a Class A franchise. He was sent to Hagerstown, Maryland for “seasoning.” One of the highlights Mickey often spoke of was facing the great Mickey Mantle in a spring training game.
Mickey was well on his way to a career in professional baseball. Perhaps he would have made it all the way to the big leagues. Unfortunately his career was cut short by a severe skin and blood disorder that eventually became debilitating. Many did not know that he had suffered with this condition throughout his high school, semi-pro, and professional playing days. Mickey often played the game he loved in pain, until he could stand it no more.
Retiring from professional baseball, Mickey joined the United States Army in 1956, proudly serving his country until 1958. After his service in the Army, Mickey returned to the family farm in Standish. There, surrounded by his much loved cats and dogs, he began a new passion; raising, training, and racing harness horses. To make ends meet at the farm Mickey also drove a tractor trailer for several different companies, and worked for Gorham Public Works.
In 1967 Mickey met the “love of his life” Cathy and they were married in 1972. Together they managed the farm until the final out was recorded when he passed away on May 11, 2016 at the age of 82. With his induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame Ronald “Mickey” Foster will forever remain a legend of Maine baseball.
From Dolby Blais and Segee
"I was living in Fulton and was 10 yrs old. My grandmother Pope was a part owner in the Lookouts team. I went to most of the games and I had two heroes Big Ned Waldrop the slugging first baseman and Mickey "the Kid" Foster. He not only could pitch but hit and play anywhere. He was always laughing and always had the girls around him. We had a victory party at my grandmothers house. I got a ball autographed by all the players and Mickey gave me his old dirty hat and said that was why the girls liked him and it was lucky. I was the happiest boy that ever lived that day! He was very special to me in my childhood. I am willing to bet he lived the rest of his life like he did that year. I am glad to have known him and wanted the family to know his value to me personally. Terry Pope June 08, 2016